Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

20 May 2013

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

May 2013

Saturday 25 May Excursion Statesman Rail 'Welsh Mountain Statesman' Saturday 25 May 2013 Hull,  Brough , Selby, Garforth, Leeds, Dewsbury,  Mirfield, Huddersfield,  Stalybridge, Stockport Wilmslow, Crewe (c. 09:00) to Aberystwyth for the Vale of Rheidol Railway. (Fully booked.)

Tuesday 28 May Talyllyn Railway Children's 'Duncan' Day.

Wednesday 29 May Compass Tours 'Ynys Mon Express' Southport - Holyhead. (Was to be steam, but has been changed to diesel due to 'loco availability issue.')

June 2013

1-2 June Llangollen Railway Day Out with Thomas weekend

Thursday 6 June Steam to Chester Railway Touring Company London Euston - Chester . 70013: Euston-Northampton-Chester and return

Saturday 8 June  Llangollen Railway Real Ale train evening

Saturday 8 June Wirral 0 Gauge Group Open Day,  Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre, Corporation Road,
Birkenhead  41 1HB British model trains running 13:00 to 17:00. Admission £2 - ample free parking. Nearest Station Birkenhead Park. Contact 0151 653 0637 or j.elliott37[at] for more information. 

22-23 June Llangollen Railway Heritage Railcar Gala

July 2013

Saturday 6 July. The Welsh N-Gauge Model Railway Show, organised by the N-Gauge Society North Wales Area Group.An exclusively N-Gauge Exhibition with layouts from the Group and visiting layouts in British and American outline. St Mary's Church hall, Rosehill Steet, Conwy LL32 8LD,10.00am to 4.00pm, adults £3.00  Children £1.50 Refreshments available. Hall fully disabled accessible - car parking, bus stops and rail station adjacent.Further information: 01492 572633.

Saturday 6 July Excursion Statesman Rail 'Welsh Mountain Statesman' Saturday 25 May 2013 Sheffield, and stations to Wolverhampton to Aberystwyth for the Vale of Rheidol Railway. (Fully booked.)

Saturday / Sunday 6-7 July Llangollen Railway Classic Transport Weekend

Saturday / Sunday 6 July Talyllyn Railway Garden Railway weekend.

Saturday 13 July Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

Saturday 20 July Excursion UK Railtours Cardigan Bay Panorama London to Aberystwyth. Note: entirely First Class Dining, fare £169.

27-28 July Llangollen Railway July 1960s weekend

Sunday 28 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool - Holyhead - Liverpool. Loco 45305, 46233, 60009 or 70013.

Tuesday 30 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.

August 2013

3-4 August Llangollen Railway  Day Out With Thomas

Sunday 4 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return by 45305/70013

8-11 August  Llangollen Railway Day Out With Thomas

Friday/Saturday 9 - 10 August Talyllyn Railway beer festival

Saturday 17 August Vintage Trains 'The Welsh Dragon' Tyseley - Llandudno Junction and return. Loco 5043

Sunday 18 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool - Holyhead - Liverpool. Loco 45305, 46233, 60009 or 70013.

Tuesday 20 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.

Thursday 22 August Talyllyn Railway Children's 'Duncan' Day

Saturday 24 August Wirral 0 Gauge Group Open Day,  Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre, Corporation Road,
Birkenhead  CH41 1HB American model trains running 13:00 to 17:00.  Admission £2 - ample free parking. Nearest Station Birkenhead Park. Contact 0151 653 0637or j.elliott37[at] for more information. 

30-31 August and 1 September  Llangollen Railway Steam gala

September 2013

Sunday 1 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return by 45305/70013.

Tuesday 3 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.

Sunday 8 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return by 45305/70013.

14 September Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

21 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

Virgin Super Voyager 221 108 Sir Ernest Shackleton departs from Rhyl with the 13.55 service from Holyhead to London Euston on 18 May. Picture by Roly High.

Magazine watch

The June issue of Rail Express magazine, now on sale, includes the first of a series of articles 'Diesel Traction on North Wales Branch Lines' by Steve Morris, a regular supporter of our website. Part 1 covers the Menai Bridge to Caernarfon branch line, including the story of the trains which ran for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales on 1 July 1969, and the freight trains which ran to Caernarfon after the Britannia Bridge fire in 1970, before the line was finally abandoned in 1972.

An interesting period of history, although many would say the line should never have closed. It was one of a group of branch lines (others being Hayfield, Keswick and Bridport) which lingered on past the demise of the Government which commissioned the infamous Beeching Report. Sadly their successors failed to save railways which would have been very useful in today's situation. 

Steve is well-qualified to create his books and articles on our area, as he grew up near the North Wales Coast line, and worked for some time as an engineer at Cardiff Canton depot.

Northern Belle on the Coast

47 802 Pride of Cumbria leading train 1Z50 Nottingham - Bangor 'Northern Belle' luxury excursion out of Abergele on 18 May. Picture by Jack Bowley.

Passing Penmaenmawr (Darren Durrant).

47 802 emerges from the Egyptian-style portal of Bangor Tunnel into Platform 2 at Bangor station (Rowan Crawshaw).

The train ran to Holyhead for servicing after setting down its passengers at Bangor. Above, 47 790 trails at the train departs into Belmont Tunnel. The 'Northern Belle' headboard has already been transferred in preparation for the return run (Rowan Crawshaw).  This tunnel mouth is not an original Chester and Holyhead Railway work, as the tunnel was shortened more recently to allow for expansion of the station area.

For the return train, 1Z51 Bangor - Nottingham, 47 790 which had been hauled at the back on the outward trip, took its turn at haulage, as seen above passing Iceland at Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd).

Alongside the A55 Expressway at Mochdre (Jack Bowley) In the 1980s the railway was re-located in this area to make room for the road.

The building of the road was also responsible for the reverse curves on the approach to Colwyn Bay station. seen in this picture by Darren Durrant.

Llangollen Railway news

Great Western Railway 2-8-0 2861, one of the Barry Ten, a collection of scrapyard locomotives that were removed from Woodham Brothers scrapyard in 1990 when Dai Woodham retired, arrived at the Llangollen Railway workshops on 7 May. Picture above by George Jones.

It is seen here  after arrival alongside former Barry resident 5952 Cogan Hall which has itself surrendered some parts towards the ongoing re-creation of a Grange class 4-6-0. 2861, which is owned by the Great Western Society (GWS) was due to have the boiler lifted to allow for the cylinder block to be extracted. The block is being donated to the 4709 project, the frames for which are erected at Llangollen as a contract job for the GWS. Picture taken by Ken Robinson while on a conducted tour as part of a railway course at Plas Tan-y-Bwlch)

2861 was built in June 1918, and spent most of its working life hauling freight trains, at Ebbw Junction Shed at Newport. It was withdrawn from service in March 1963. Loco 3802, of the same class as 2861, is part of the Llangollen active fleet and a regular on Llangollen Railway trains.

Passenger action at Llangollen on 14 May, with pannier tank 6430 taking water while running the 'Timetable A' service. Steam trains now will be running daily throughout the summer. Picture by Ken Robinson.

Heart of Wales Scenic Rambler

The 'Heart of Wales Scenic Rambler' on 18 May organised by Compass Tours was an excursion from North Wales to Cardiff.  It travelled outward from Holyhead outward via the scenic 'Heart of Wales' line between Shrewsbury and Swansea - the 'Central Wales' line as it is known by everyone outside the world of Marketing. The train returned in the evening via the faster route through Hereford, Crewe and Chester. The operation required a empty-stock run to Holyhead the previous day from West Coast Railways base at Carnforth, always a pleasure for photographers.The train was top and tailed by Class 47s, of which 47 854 Diamond Jubilee was in charge of westbound haulage, as pictured above by Peter Lloyd at Llandudno Junction.

47 826 on the rear (Peter Lloyd)

Jack Bowley photographed the empty train passing Conwy Castle (above). The trees have finally decided that spring is here.

Bangor (Rowan Crawshaw)

The excursion itself, as seen by Jack Bowley from the site of the former Hotel '70 degrees' above Old Colwyn. Leading locomotive now is 47 826 with 47 854 on the rear. The story of the curiously-named hotel can be found in a document from the BBC archives.

In the passing loop at Llandrindod Wells (John Young). The London and North Western Railway signal box has been preserved by the local council as a museum. It was originally located at the level crossing away from the station, and known as No 2 box. It was dismantled and relocated to its present position on the station platform, formerly the site of the No 1 box. British Rail handed it over to the Town Council at a ceremony during the Victorian Week in 1990. Since then the Council has opened it for limited periods during the Summer months.

A Shrewsbury-bound train, formed of 153 353, rolls in to Llandrindod, against a backscene of Victorian spa hotels (John Young).

The return empty working to Carnforth passes Llandudno Junction on 19 May (Jack Bowley). 47 854 is on the front; the triangular itinerary resulted in the whole train being turned round, a good way to confuse website compilers, but note the position of the pullman-liveried coach in the train.

Borth revisited

As a postscript to the recent item about Borth station, Glyn Jones offers this picture (above) of 97 304 powering through, heading towards Dovey Junction on 20 June 2011 with an inspection train.

There is now no trace of the 'down' platform which appeared in the 1950s picture, except that the original railway fence appears to be still in place.

Irish Journey - with Stephen Hughes

For the fourth time I set across the Irish Sea to travel on the premier tour on our neighbouring railway in Ireland. Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) 'Golden Vale Railtour' which took place from 11 - 13 May. This year, the tour, departing from Dublin Connolly on Saturday was due to visit Waterford, then Limerick - Nenagh - Dublin - Belfast - Antrim - Bangor - Belfast  - Whitehead - by Monday evening. Due to 'driver's hours'  GM diesel 072 provided the motive power to Waterford where ex Dublin & South Eastern Railway K2 No 461 was due to take over, last year's problems with this loco hopefully having been overcome.

Above, 461 at Carrick-on-Suir, the home of diesel preservationists the Irish Traction Group, between Waterford and Limerick.

A faultless performance brought us to Limerick (above) for the Saturday overnight stay. The following day 461 set off from Limerick hauling the Cravens stock up the 'Nenagh Road', a line that is still said to be under threat. Perhaps because of this, the track did not seem in especially good condition, and contributed to a late arrival at Ballybrophy where we joined the main line.

Further delay was caused by the bane of a number of steam specials, low water pressure at the water stop at Cloughjordan (above), where the locals once again turned out to witness the spectacle, whereas those who turned out at the next station, Roscrea, were not so fortunate, as the train missed its booked stop in an attempt to regain some lost time. More minutes were lost at Ballybrophy, our special having lost its booked path, and at one time we were 110 minutes down.

There followed a good run to Dublin Connolly, where I believe a pretty unique situation took place, as our train drew into platform 5, our next train to Belfast composed of Mk 2 stock was waiting on platform 3, with J15 No 186 (above) backing down onto it as we arrived. A hurried transfer took place with the result that we were only 60 minutes down on departure and initially some spirited running gave false hope that no more time would be lost, but unfortunately the ten-mile climb to the summit after Dundalk required a stop about three miles from the top to - presumably - raise steam.

Shap with a 'Duchess' it was not, but the reliable 186 must have made a fine sight as she stormed up to reach the summit. Unfortunately, further time was lost and a prolonged stop at Portadown allowed two northbound 'Enterprise' trains to pass, the driver of one, who was a regular steam driver, tapping his watch and smiling (not sure his passengers were, though!). By the Lisburn water stop I'm sorry to say that hunger got the better of me and I joined a few others  in taking a service train into Belfast (Great Victoria Street). It was nearly 23:00 by the time 186 arrived, nearly 3 hours late.

Due to this late arrival, the departure from Belfast the following morning was re-timed for 60 minutes later than scheduled (to enable the footplate staff to have proper rest) and the opportunity to travel on the mothballed Lisburn - Antrim line was lost as it was decided to try to get back to the timetable - so we travelled Belfast - Lisburn - Belfast - Bangor - Belfast - Lisburn - Bangor (above, 186 at Bangor.)

As I was due to return to Dublin on the 16:05 Enterprise service from Belfast I considered baling out at Lisburn (above) to await it there just in case of further delay, but in the end I decided to go back to Belfast.

A succession of greens all the way to Central Junction in Belfast led to some excellent running and an arrival in Belfast Central was a few minutes early, where GM 201 class No 206 was waiting to propel the 'Enterprise' service to Dublin, where I arrived in good time to catch the Ulysses sailing to Holyhead at 20:55. Incidentally, the local Belfast paper was reporting a 25% drop in journeys on the 'Enterprise', a possible combination of completion of the motorway linking the two cities and speed restrictions that offer a slower journey time than 20 years ago - and at a time when passenger numbers are up on other Northern Ireland lines.

Once again, a very enjoyable railtour organised by the RPSI ... and I completed a few more track miles in the republic making up for all the years I hadn't bothered to go!

Measurement Trains

The 'New Measurement Train',, which was created for Network Rail using former HST vehicles, made a run along the North Wales Coast on 16 May, contrary to an early plan which would have seen another train allocated to the track recording in this line. Above, it is seen passing Rhyl westbound. Picture by Roly High.

Above, 43 062 John Armitt leads through Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd)...

 ... and Bangor on the way to Holyhead (Rowan Crawshaw).

Maelltraeth arches (Tim Rogers).

Return through Bangor with 43 013 leading (Rowan Crawshaw).

The 'Banana' at Pen-y-Clip, Llanfairfechan (Peter Basterfield).

Also on 16 May, 31 465 and 37 402 (top and tailed) approach Gobowen at 12:05 with a Network Rail Measurement train bound for Chester. Picture by Martin Evans who had just arrived off the 12:05 departure to Birmingham International which can be seen departing.

Making a fine sight on the rear, recently-revived former North Wales passenger loco 37 402, the sometime Bont y Bermo.

Incidentally, we have heard a rumour that DRS will be soon opening a train-crew depot with loco stabling facility at Llandudno. This seems unlikely, and informed sources assure us that although DRS has plans for traincrew recruitment, a depot at Llandudno does not feature.

Cambrian Coast images

Tim Rogers took this picture of the Cambrian coast line excursion (see last issue) on 11 May crossing Briwet bridge near Penrhyndeudraeth. Work progresses on the project to replace it; the road section is currently closed while the power company work on diverting their cables. The temporary closure has become somewhat longer than planned, with mid-June now estimated. There seems to be no intention (at present) to block the railway until the new bridge alongside is ready.

On a visit to Llanaber station (for the Llwyndu Farmhouse Hotel) on 4 May,  we noted work under way to install Passenger Information screens: is this the last Arriva Trains Wales station to receive them? The work involved digging a trench along the path leading to the platform, making access for passengers somehat awkward for a few hours. The picture (by Charlie Hulme) of 158 821 departing from Machynlleth shows that the 'gallows' for the screen was already in place. It is to be hoped that the equipment is very weatherproof, as this station is very exposed: sea water from the breaking waves was reaching the platform as we waited for the train.

Freight in pictures

More 37s: Tuesday 14 May's flasks from Valley approaching Llanfair PG with 37 607 and 37 604 (Peter Basterfield).

66 118  approaching Gobowen with the evening train from South Wales to Dee Marsh Junction where the load of steel coils would be transferred to Shotton steelworks for coating. Picture by Martin Evans.

A good place to see freight trains, and within the range of a 'Wayfarer' ticket, is Peak Forest near Buxton and its limestone quarry sidings. Greg Mape ventured there on 16 May: here is 66 108 with a train of box wagons in the connection to the Doveholes Quarry. The RMC Roadstone shunter is seldom used now as train locos do their own shunting.

The view from the road bridge by the closed Peak Forest station looking towards Buxton (Greg Mape)

A look back through the fuzzy lens of our archive disk to 1974. The heaps of limestone waste have yet to be landscaped, as a Class 25 drags a Northwich-bound train hoppers up the gradient, pushed in rear by another 25, not coupled to the train, which will drop back just as it passes under the bridge and the train breasts Peak Forest summit (Charlie Hulme). Standing on the pavement-less bridge was safer in those days...

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